Profile: Idupulapati M. Rao

, , ,


Idupulapati M. Rao

Job Title:

Emeritus Scientist (CIAT)


Phone Number:



Google Scholar Profile


Dr. Idupulapati M. Rao received his BSc degree in 1971 with majors in chemistry, botany and zoology from Andhra University, MSc degree in Botany from Bhopal University in 1973 and PhD degree in Botany (Plant Physiology) in 1978 from S. V. University, in India. He worked for two years as a Plant Physiologist at ICRISAT, Patancheru, India. He moved to USA in 1981 for postdoctoral training at the University of Illinois with Professors Louise Anderson (Plant Biochemistry) and John Boyer (Plant Physiology). In 1984 he moved to the University of California, Berkeley to work with Professor Norman Terry (Plant Nutrition) as an Assistant Specialist.

In 1989, Dr. Rao accepted a Senior Scientist position at CIAT in the Tropical Pastures Program to work on the mechanisms of adaptation of tropical forage species to acid soils and to contribute to the multidisciplinary team working on mechanistic understanding of soil-plant-animal relationships in legume-based tropical pastures. In 1997, he was given the additional responsibility to work with the Bean team on improving abiotic stress tolerance in common bean and the Soils team to overcome soil degradation in the tropics. He worked at CIAT for 27 years and has contributed to the development of abiotic stress (soils and climate)-adapted tropical forage and common bean germplasm options for sustainable intensification of crop-livestock systems in the tropics.

Dr. Rao worked across a wide range of agricultural research areas including plant physiology, plant nutrition, agronomy, plant-soil-livestock-climate interactions, and climate variability and change, mostly related to the sustainable intensification of crop-livestock systems especially for smallholders in marginalized environments. He worked as principal investigator or co-investigator on more than 40 international research projects.  As part of multidisciplinary teams, he has made contributions that impacted on smallholder agriculture through improved food and nutritional security and natural resource management to fulfill United Nations’ recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end extreme poverty and tackling the climate change.

Dr. Rao has published 185 journal articles and 61 book chapters. He won the outstanding principal staff award from CIAT in 2000 and outstanding research publication awards in 1999, 2003, 2009 and 2011. He was also part of the CIAT team that won the excellence in science award from the CGIAR for outstanding partnership in 2001.

Dr. Rao is currently working as a visiting scientist at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), Peoria, Illinois, USA. Dr. Rao is married to Kusuma and he has two daughters, Madhuri and Subhashini.

Research Areas:

  • Plant Nutrition
  • Environmental Stress Physiology
  • Crop-livestock systems
  • Climate Change

Current N-related Projects:

  • Biological Nitrification Inhibition


Publications (Related to Nitrogen – Last 5 years)

Schultze-Kraft, R., I. Rao, M. Peters and R. Clements, C. Bai and G. Liu. 2018. Tropical forage legumes for environmental benefits: An overview. Tropical Grasslands – Forrajes Tropicales 6: 1-14.

Marrou, H., J. J. Ricaurte, M. E. Ghanem, J. A. Clavijo Michelaneli, L. Ghaouti, I. M. Rao and T. R. Sinclair. 2018. Is nitrogen accumulation in grain legumes responsive to growth or ontogeny? Physiologia Plantarum 162: 109-122.

Chirinda, N., L. Arenas, S. Loaiza, C. Trujillo, M. Katto, P. Chaparro, J. Nuñez, J. Arango, D. Martinez-Baron, A. M. Loboguerrero, L. A. Becerra Lopez-Lavalle, I. Avila, M. Guzmán, M. Peters, J. Twyman, M. García, L. Serna, D. Escobar, D. Arora, J. Tapasco, L. Mazabel, F. Correa, M. Ishitani, M. Da Silva, E. Graterol, S. Jaramillo, A. Pinto, A. Zuluaga, N. Lozano, R. Byrnes, G. LaHue, C. Alvarez, I. Rao and R. Barahona. 2017. Novel technological and management options for accelerating transformational changes in rice and livestock systems. Sustainability (in press).

Karwat, H., D. Moreta, J. Arango, J. Núñez, I. Rao, A. Rincón, F. Rasche and G. Cadisch. 2017. Residual effect of biological nitrification inhibition (BNI) by Brachiaria humidicola pasture on nitrogen recovery and grain yield of subsequent maize. Plant and Soil 420: 389-406.

Odokonyero, K., T. B. Acuña, J. A. Cardoso, J. C. Jimenéz, I. M. Rao, J. Nùñez and J. Arango. 2017. Potential role of fungal endophytes in biological nitrification inhibition in Brachiaria grass species. Journal of Plant Biochemistry and Physiology 5: 191. doi:10.4172/2329-9029.1000191.

Subbarao G. V., J. Arango, K. Masahiro, A.M. Hooper, T. Yoshihashi, Y. Ando, K. Nakahara, S. Deshpande, I. Ortiz-Monasterio, M. Ishitani, M. Peters, N. Chirinda, L. Wollenberg, J.C. Lata, B. Gerard, S. Tobita, I.M. Rao, H.J. Braun, V. Kommerell, J. Tohme and M. Iwanaga. 2017. Genetic mitigation strategies to tackle agricultural GHG emissions: The case for biological nitrification inhibition technology. Plant Science 262: 165-168.

Diaz L. M., J. Ricaurte, C. Cajiao, C. Galeano, I. Rao, S. Beebe and B. Raatz. 2017. Phenotypic evaluation and QTL analysis of yield and symbiotic nitrogen fixation in a common bean population grown with two levels of phosphorus supply. Molecular Breeding 37: 76. doi:10.1007/s11032-017-0673-1.

Byrnes, R. C., J. Nùñez, L. Arenas, I. Rao, C. Trujillo, C. Alvarez, J. Arango, F. Rasche and N. Chirinda. 2017. Biological nitrification inhibition by Brachiaria grasses mitigates soil nitrous oxide emissions from bovine urine patches. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 107: 156-163.

Polania, J., C. Poschenreider, I. Rao and S. Beebe. 2016. Estimation of phenotypic variability in SNF ability of common bean using 15N natural abundance in grain under drought stress. European Journal of Agronomy 79: 66-73.

Rudel, T. K., O-J. Kwon, B. Paul, M. Boval, I. M. Rao, D. Burbano, M. McGroddy, A. Lerner, D. White, M. Cuchillo, M. Luna and M. Peters. 2016. Does mixed crop – livestock farming encourage sustainable agricultural practices?: A meta-analysis. Land 5(1), 6; doi:10.3390/land5010006.

Rudel, T. K., B. Paul, D. White, I. M. Rao, R. van der Hoek, A. Castro, M. Boval, A. Lerner, L. Schneider and M. Peters. 2015. LivestockPlus: Forages, sustainable intensification, and food security in the tropics. Ambio 44: 685-693.

Subbarao, G. V., T. Yoshihashi, M. Worthington, K. Nakahara, Y. Ando, K. L. Sahrawat, I. M. Rao, J. C. Lata, M. Kishii and H. J. Braun. 2015. Suppression of soil nitrification by plants. Plant Science 233: 155-164.

Araújo, S. S., S. Beebe, M. Crespi, B. Delbreil, E. M. González, V. Gruber, I. Lejeune-Henaut, W. Link, M. J. Monteros, E. Prats, I. Rao, V. Vadez and M. C. Vaz Patto. 2015. Abiotic stress responses in legumes: Strategies used to cope with environmental challenges. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 34: 237-280.

Rao I. M., M. Peters, A. Castro, R. Schultze-Kraft, D. White, M. Fisher, J. Miles, C. Lascano, M. Blümmel, D. Bungenstab, J. Tapasco, G. Hyman, A. Bolliger, B. Paul, R. van der Hoek, B. Maass, T. Tiemann, M. Cuchillo, S. Douxchamps, C. Villanueva, A. Rincón, M. Ayarza, T. Rosenstock, G. Subbarao, J. Arango, J. Cardoso, M. Worthington, N. Chirinda, A. Notenbaert, A. Jenet, A. Schmidt, N. Vivas, R. Lefroy, K. Fahrney, E. Guimarães, J. Tohme, S. Cook, M. Herrero, M. Chacón, T. Searchinger and T. Rudel. 2015. LivestockPlus – The sustainable intensification of forage-based systems to improve livelihoods and ecosystem services in the tropics. Tropical Grasslands–Forrajes Tropicales 3: 59-82.

Rao, I. M., M. Peters, R. van der Hoek, A. Castro, G. V. Subbarao, G. Cadisch and A. Rincón. 2014. Tropical forage-based systems for climate-smart livestock production in Latin America. Rural21 4: 12-15.

Fenta, B. A., S. E. Beebe, I. M. Rao and K. J. Kunert. 2014. Association of nodule performance traits with shoot performance traits of common bean under drought stress. Journal of Crop Improvement 28: 418-435.

Djikeng, A., I. M Rao, D. Njarui, M. Mutimura, J. Caradus, S. R. Ghimire, L. Johnson, J. A. Cardoso, M. K. Ahonsi and S. Kelemu. 2014. Climate-smart Brachiaria grasses for improving livestock production in East Africa. Tropical Grasslands – Forrajes Tropicales 2: 38-39.

Arango, J., D. Moreta, J. Nuñez, K. Hartmann, M. Dominguez, M. Ishitani, J. Miles, G. Subbarao, M. Peters and I. Rao. 2014. Developing methods to evaluate phenotypic variability in Biological Nitrification Inhibition (BNI) capacity of Brachiaria grasses. Tropical Grasslands – Forrajes Tropicales 2: 6-8.

Rao, I., M. Ishitani, J. Miles, M. Peters, J. Tohme, J. Arango, D. E. Moreta, H. Lopez, A. Castro, R. van der Hoek, S. Martens, G. Hyman, J. Tapasco, J. Duitama, H. Suarez, G. Borrero, J. Núñez, K. Hartmann, M. Dominguez, M. Sotelo, D. Vergara, P. Lavelle, G. V. Subbarao, A. Rincon, C. Plazas, R. Mendoza, L. Rathjen, H. Karwat and G. Cadisch. 2014. Climate-smart crop-livestock systems for smallholders in the tropics: Integration of new forage hybrids to intensify agriculture and to mitigate climate change through regulation of nitrification in soil. Tropical Grasslands – Forrajes Tropicales 2: 130-132.

Moreta, D. E., J. Arango, M. Sotelo, D. Vergara, A. Rincón, M. Ishitani, A. Castro, J. Miles, M. Peters, J. Tohme, G. V. Subbarao and I. M. Rao. 2014. Biological nitrification inhibition (BNI) in Brachiaria pastures: A novel strategy to improve eco-efficiency of crop-livestock systems and to mitigate climate change. Tropical Grasslands – Forrajes Tropicales 2: 88-91.

Douxchamps, S., I. M. Rao, M. Peters, R. van der Hoek, A. Schmidt, S. Martens, J. Polania, M. Mena, C. Binder, R. Scholl, A. Mosimann, F. Holman, M. Quintero, M. Kreuzer, E. Frossard and A. Oberson. 2014. Farm-scale trade-offs between legume use as forage vs. green manure: The case of Canavalia brasiliensis. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 38: 25-45.

Subbarao, G. V., I.M. Rao, K. Nakahara, Y. Ando, K.L. Sahrawat, T. Tsehaye, J.C. Lata, S. Boudsocq, J.W. Miles, M. Ishitani and M. Peters. 2013. Nitrogen management in grasslands and forage-based production systems – Role of biological nitrification inhibition (BNI). Tropical Grasslands – Forrajes Tropicales 1: 168-174.

Peters, M., Herrero, M., Fisher, M., Erb, K.-H., Rao, I., Subbarao, G. V, Castro, A., Arango, J., Chara, J., Murgueitio, E., van der Hoek, R., Laderach, P., Hyman, G., Tapasco, J., Strassburg, B., Paul, B.K., Rincon, A., Schultze-Kraft, R., Fonte, S., Searchinger, T. 2013. Challenges and opportunities for improving eco-efficiency of tropical forage-based systems to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Tropical Grasslands – Forrajes Tropicales 1: 156-167.

Subbarao G. V., I. M. Rao, K. Nakahara, K. L. Sahrawat, C. T. Hash, Y. Ando and T. Kawashima. 2013. Potential for biological nitrification inhibition (BNI) to reduce nitrification and N2O emissions from pasture-crop-livestock systems. Animal 7s2: 322-332.

Subbarao, G. V., K. L. Sahrawat, K. Nakahara, I. M. Rao, M. Ishitani, C. T. Hash, M. Kishi, D. Bonnett, W. Berry and J. C. Lata. 2013. A paradigm shift towards low-nitrifying agricultural systems – Role of biological nitrification inhibition (BNI). Ann. Bot. 112: 297-316.

Devi, J. M., T. R. Sinclair, S. E. Beebe and I. M. Rao. 2013. Comparison of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) genotypes for nitrogen fixation tolerance to soil drying. Plant Soil 364: 29-37.

Douxchamps, S., E. Frossard, N. Uehlinger, I. Rao, R. van der Hoek, M. Mena, A. Schmidt and A. Oberson. 2012. Biomass production of Canavalia brasiliensis in the Nicaraguan hillsides. Journal of Agricultural Sciences 150: 675-690.

Fonte, S., S. J. vanek, P. Oyarzun, S. Parsa, D. C. Quintero, I. M. Rao and P. Lavelle. 2012. Pathways to agricultural intensification of soil management by smallholders farmers in the Andean hillsides. Advances in Agronomy 116: 125-184.

Subbarao, G. V., K. L. Sahrawat, K. Nakahara, T. Ishikawa, N. Kudo, M. Kishii, I. M. Rao, C. T. Hash, T. S. George, P. S. Rao, P. Nardi, D. Bonnett, W. Berry, K. Suenaga and J. C. Lata. 2012. Biological nitrification inhibition (BNI) – A novel strategy to regulate nitrification in agricultural systems. Adv. Agron. 114: 249-302.